ISEAS Perspective 2021

ISEAS Perspective provides analysis of specific current events and their significance for the Southeast Asian region. This will be published occasionally, and is aimed at keeping decision-makers in both the public and private sectors informed; as well as scholars, laymen and the interested public. This series undergoes a peer-review process.


2021/110 “The KPK Controversy Keeps Corruption a Central Issue in Public Consciousness” by Max Lane


2021 No. 110

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY While the COVID crisis continues to dominate political discourse in Indonesia, policies affecting the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) have kept corruption salient in public consciousness. There is growing public discontent and anger driven by the perception that the Indonesian political elites are colluding to weaken the KPK to promote their own vested interests. […]


2021/109 “Comparing Vietnamese Responses to Chinese and American Public Diplomacy Efforts on Social Media” by Dien Nguyen An Luong


2021 No. 109

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY In a bid to offer a counter narrative to Western media, China has cranked up its efforts to propagate its own views on various fronts abroad. Armed with ample resources and muscular capacity, Beijing has orchestrated a well-coordinated campaign to shape narratives on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. It also marshals […]


2021/108 “COVID-19’s Economic Impact on Tourism in Singapore” by Joey Erh


2021 No. 108

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Prior to the pandemic, the tourism sector in Singapore had been steadily growing over the years. From 2007 to 2019, total international visitor arrivals and tourism receipts both grew annually at an average of 4.5% and 5.0% respectively. Amongst the five components of tourism receipts, the ‘Shopping’ component generates the highest total value […]


2021/107 “Digital Islam in Indonesia: The Shift of Ritual and Religiosity during Covid-19” by Wahyudi Akmaliah and Ahmad Najib Burhani


2021 No. 107

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the use of digital platforms in religious rituals was already becoming an increasingly common practice among Indonesian preachers to reach out to young audiences. During the pandemic, some Muslim organisations and individual preachers have speeded up the use of such platforms as a way to communicate with people and […]


2021/106 “Saleable and Sustainable: Sabah Takes the Lead in Palm Oil Certification in Malaysia” by Lee Poh Onn


2021 No. 106

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Malaysia’s export of oil palm to developed countries has increasingly been plagued with accusations of environmentally unsustainable practices and the threat of boycotts. Oil palm certification regimes have been introduced to address these concerns. Sabah has taken the lead on this front by adopting the mandatory Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification standard […]


2021/105 “Digital Convergence and Militant Crosspollination in Indonesia” by Quinton Temby


2021 No. 105

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY A social media analysis of salafi-jihadi and opposition Islamist chat groups indicates early but significant signs of crosspollination between both communities. This appears to be the result of a government crackdown that has forced Islamists to rely especially on Telegram, a platform that had traditionally been a haven for ISIS sympathisers. Digital convergence […]


2021/104 “Thaksin to Return to Thailand? An Old Dream or New Hope for National Reconciliation?” by Termsak Chalermpalanupap


2021 No. 104

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is once again talking about ending his self-imposed exile overseas and returning to Thailand “soon!” He marked his seventy-second birthday at the end of July, and may just be musing over a fading dream after nearly 13 years away from his homeland. This is not the first […]


2021/103 “US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s Southeast Asia Tour: Assurances and Dividends” by William Choong, Hoang Thi Ha, Le Hong Hiep and Ian Storey


2021 No. 103

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s visit to three Southeast Asian countries in July 2021 was aimed at reaffirming America’s commitment to regional alliances and partnerships amid concerns of US neglect of the region in the first six months of the Biden administration. The choice of Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines – as well […]


2021/102 “E-Commerce in Indonesia: Impressive Growth but Facing Serious Challenges” by Siwage Dharma Negara and Endang Sri Soesilowati


2021 No. 102

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY E-commerce has been given a significant boost during the COVID-19 pandemic, with transactions increasing by 23 per cent, and gross merchandise value (GMV) projected at US$32 billion. With the recent merger between Gojek and Tokopedia, competition in Indonesia’s e-commerce market is set to intensify. At the same time, the e-commerce industry faces serious […]


2021/101 “A New Climate Policy in the United States: Potential Implications for Southeast Asia” by Paul G. Harris


2021 No. 101

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The advent of Joe Biden as US president marked a major shift in US policy on climate change, but major obstacles stand in the way of the realization of the Biden administration’s objectives. Even if the Biden administration’s climate policies are implemented, climate change and its many impacts will continue to grow worse, […]